Aaron Leftkove, who owns the tiny Gowanus clam shack Littleneck and its sister establishment in Greenpoint, tells amNY he had nothing to do with a recent Craigslist posting “looking for YELP reviewers with established or Elite profiles” to pen enthusiastic reviews in exchange for chowder. The original post, which expressly identified the restaurant, has been flagged, and while Leftkove didn’t say whether he had heard from any takers, he says he has made a complaint to the site. “I imagine it’s an unhappy customer or a former business partner who we took legal action against and who does childish stuff like this,” he told the paper.
A recent court case established that Yelp treads something of a difficult position when it posts fake reviews, which it says appear in listings because its algortihm-based system does not always weed out the pay-per-stars type. The online reviews site is free to continue manipulating the order and appearance of its own listings, of course, a practice that small-business owners have compared to extortion.